|Publication number||US7949953 B2|
|Application number||US 10/857,336|
|Publication date||May 24, 2011|
|Filing date||May 28, 2004|
|Priority date||Jun 13, 2003|
|Also published as||EP1634194A2, US20040252136, WO2004111900A2, WO2004111900A8|
|Publication number||10857336, 857336, US 7949953 B2, US 7949953B2, US-B2-7949953, US7949953 B2, US7949953B2|
|Inventors||Ankur Bhatt, Sanjay Kapoor, Aurobinda Pradhan|
|Original Assignee||Sap Aktiengesellschaft|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (18), Non-Patent Citations (33), Referenced by (10), Classifications (9), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/478,255, filed Jun. 13, 2003, and titled “Designing Business Content, Reports, Charts and Instant Reports for Mobile Applications,” and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/648,108, filed Aug. 26, 2003, and titled “Designing Business Content for Reporting,” both of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety.
This description relates to designing and generating graphical charts.
Various types of graphical charts are known, as well as software tools that may be used to create and display graphical charts. Some examples of graphical charts include bar charts and pie charts. Charts are very useful in that they allow data to be presented in a form that helps a viewer readily understand the significance of the data.
Business computing systems contain a lot of data that are useful in making business decisions, and the use of graphics in displaying this data could potentially be very helpful. Unfortunately, the task of creating a useful graphical chart for the stored data can be very time-consuming, and in some cases the task of designing a chart requires too much training time in how to use a graphics software program. In addition, often the people who have the detailed knowledge of how to use a graphics software program are not the people who have the necessary business knowledge to understand what graphical representations of the data would be useful.
The invention provides techniques for easily designing and generating graphical charts that use data stored in a computing system.
In one aspect, a method is provided for defining a chart that graphically represents data stored in an electronic data source. The method includes receiving a user selection of 1) a data object family contained in the electronic data source, and 2) an attribute for the selected data object family. The selected attribute has multiple possible predefined values that are to serve as category axis values in the chart. The method also includes receiving a user definition of a first data series comprising a value measure to be determined for each of the category axis values and that uses stored data associated with the data object family. The method also includes storing an electronic chart definition file containing an identification of the selected data object attribute and the defined first data series.
In different implementations, the method may include one or more of the following features. The method may further include receiving a user definition of a second data series comprising a second value measure to be determined for each of the category axis values and that uses stored data associate with the data object family, and also storing the defined second data series in the stored electronic definition file. The defined first and second data series may be defined to use a common value axis scale, or different value axis scales.
The method may also include defining an invocation command that causes the chart to be generated during a run time. The invocation command may be a user navigation to a pre-selected component of a software application to which component the predefined chart is defined to be assigned. The method may also include receiving a user definition of one of a plurality of chart types for the chart, the chart type being defined from a group of possible chart types comprising a bar chart, a line chart and a pie chart.
The method may also include receiving user definitions of look-and-feel attributes for the chart. The user definitions of the look-and-feel attributes may be received within a launched chart control component. The method may also include receiving user definitions of an electronic database query that causes data needed to generate the predefined chart to be retrieved from the electronic data source.
In another aspect, a user computer program product is provided that enables the above-described methods to be performed. The computer program product is tangibly stored on an information carrier (for example, memory or a propagated signal) and comprises program instructions that, when executed, perform the method to define a chart that graphically represents data stored in an electronic data source.
The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.
Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.
The Y-Axis of
Referring now to
Referring now to
The server 15 includes, as is conventional, a processor 120, random access memory (RAM) 125, a read-only memory (ROM) 130, and a network interface 115, all interconnected by a system bus 135. Various software programs are stored in ROM 130, and may be loaded into RAM 125 for execution. The software programs include, in this example, a system maintenance program 132 that, in addition to other functions, may be used to create and revise graphical chart definitions.
A business content provider program 134 is used to design and execute database queries that may, for example, be used at run time to extract data from a data source 150 for use in generating a graphical chart. In one implementation, the business content provider program 134 is made up of several different application program modules, some of which reside on a central server, such as server 15, while others reside on a client computer system, such as system 10. In other implementations, the business content provider program 134 can reside entirely on the server 15, or entirely on the client computer system 10.
A graphics control program 136 is used for chart graphics functions, both in designing graphical charts and in their execution. A wide variety of commercially available software programs may be used as the graphics control program 136, or the program 136 may be a custom design. Business software programs 138 are also included in ROM 130. One example of a business software program is a mobile sales solution. A mobile sales solution can be used by mobile users (e.g., laptop or personal digital assistant (PDA) users) to manage the interactions a company may have with its customers, for example, marketing, sales, and service functions. Other example software programs include various customer relationship management software applications and supply chain management applications, to name a few examples. Also provided within system 5 is a chart execution program 139 and a database 152 of chart definition files.
Moving now to the client site computer system 10, the system includes a processing unit 35, one or more input devices 40, and a display device 45 upon which a user may be presented displays. The display device 45 has a video screen 50 upon which displays may appear. As is conventional, the processing unit 35 includes a processor 55, random access memory (RAM) 60, read-only memory (ROM) 65, and a network interface 100, all interconnected by a system bus 70. Input device controllers 75, also connected to the system bus 70, receive command signals from input devices 40 and forward the command signals in the appropriate format for processing. A video controller 80, connected to the system bus 70, receives video command signals and generates the appropriate video signals that are forwarded to the display device 45 so that the desired display is provided on the screen 50. The computer system 10 is not limited to a personal computer such as a desktop or laptop, but could instead include a PDA (or other handheld computing device), a terminal, a workstation, or other such device. The client computer systems 10 could be mobile units at various sites in a sales region, for example.
ROM 65, as is conventional, provides non-volatile data storage including magnetic disk memory, flash memory, removable non-volatile storage media, and the like. Various application programs 85, 90, etc., as is conventional, have program instructions that may be loaded into RAM 60 during operation. Also, the client system 10 may include various reporting tool applications 95, 100, 105, etc., and may have locally stored database object files 145. Processor 55 then may execute the program instructions to perform desired program functions. The components just described could be combined or separated in various manners, and could be stored in various manners, such as on various non-volatile storage media.
Computer system 10 has a network interface 110 connected to its system bus 70, and to network 20. As such, computer system 10 may access server 15 via network 20 to run applications residing on the server 15. Network 20 may be, for example, a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or the Internet.
A user can use an input device 40, such as a mouse, keyboard, trackball, stylus, joystick, etc., to provide input and make selections that can affect application program operation. I/O devices such as a printer (not shown) can be used to print results. Devices such as memory controllers, power supplies, etc., are omitted for clarity. The components described with regard to
In the menu listing area 602, various expandable menu topics are listed under the “mobile system maintenance” heading. As seen, one of the listed topics is a “charts” component, which is the component that is used to design and maintain a chart definition. The “Charts” component is shown in expanded form to identify its sub-components, which include a “Search” function, a “Details” function, an “Element Descriptions” function, and a “Parameter Descriptions” function. In the
The chart details work area 604 is made up of several graphical user interface tiles that are arranged within the work area. Collectively, the tiles provided in the work area may be referred to as a tile set. In the upper left corner of the work area 604, there is a “chart definition” tile 606. Within this tile, there is shown various definition fields and user-created values for those fields. The first field is a “Chart Unique Identifier,” which is a user-created unique identifier or computer-generated unique identifier that is associated with the particular chart to distinguish it from other charts. In this example, the “Chart Unique Identifier” has been selected to be “DocNetVal.” The next field in the “chart definition” tile 606 is a “chart type” field. A drop-down box may be implemented in connection the “Chart Type” field so that a user may select from various predefined chart types that may be available. In this example, a “column chart,” or in other words, a “bar” chart, has been selected. Other example chart types include a pie chart, a stacked column chart, and a line chart, to name a few examples.
The next field in the “chart definition” tile 606 is a “Chart Status” field, which in this example is selected to be “executable.” As selected, the chart is available to be displayed during a run time. Another option for this field, such as an “in process” option, may be selected so that the chart is not executed during a run time, for example when the chart definition has not yet been completed.
Next in the “Chart Definition” tile 606 are options for selecting how data to be used in the chart will be retrieved from a data source, such as the data source 150 shown in the
In tile 606, displayed below the database query selectors there is a box in which the name of the database query associated with the chart is provided. In this example, the name for the associated “business content provider” database query is “DocNetVal.”
At the bottom of the “chart definition” tile 606 are two user-selectable buttons. One is a “customize” button that, when selected, launches a graphical chart control software program to customize the look-and-feel of the chart being defined. Selecting the “customize” button may, for example, launch the graphic control program 136 shown in the
An “assigned components” tile 608 is provided to the immediate right of the “chart definition” tile 606. The “assigned components” tile 608 first allows a user to select, and associate with the chart, a software application and a business component for that software application. In this example, the selected software application is a “mobile sales” application, and the selected component within that application is a “marketing” component. It will be seen later that these selections define where the chart is made available to a user during a run time. The “assigned components” also is where the user identifies a data object, or business object, family for the chart. The data object family in this example is the family of “sales documents.” The data objects that belong to this family are stored in the data source, for example, the data source 150 shown in
Next, a “data source properties” tile 610 is provided immediately below tiles 606 and 608. Tile 610 shows, in table format, the defined chart axes. First, with respect to a “value axis” for the chart, the defined “data series” for the chart is a “SumOfCurrency” data series, as shown in the “property” column of the table. A further explanation of how a data series is defined is provided later. For present purposes, it is sufficient to understand that the “SumOfCurrency” data series is a user-defined calculation that, when calculated, uses stored data associated with the user-selected data object family identified in tile 608 (and retrieved from the data source using the defined database query identified in tile 606) to calculate a value measure for each of the defined category axis values.
Also, in the tile 610 table there is a column where it is identified whether or not a data series “property” is a currency value (“Is Currency”). A box being checked in this column indicates that the data series is a currency value. In the
The “Sum Of Currency” data series may be a calculation that is defined using the business content provider program, as will be described later. By way of example, suppose the “Sum Of Currency” data series is a sum of the monetary value of sales orders that may be stored in different currencies. The “Waerk” field may define the currency (for example, U.S. dollars, Euro, etc.) in which the value of the sales order is stored in the data source. When rendering the chart at run time, the “Waerk” field may be used to convert the order values to a common currency, and then the currency may be converted to a currency defined by a local default setting. As such, the displayed chart will display the sales order values in the locally set currency. In addition, it is necessary that the “Waerk” field value be retrieved at run time so that this common currency calculation may be performed.
Also provided in the “data source properties” tile 610 table is the defined category axis for the chart. The category axis may be defined by selecting an object attribute for the selected data object family, where the database attribute has multiple possible predefined values. In the
A “report parameters” tile 612 is provided at the bottom of the work area 604 and immediately under the “data source properties” tile 610. The report parameters define the database object fields for which a user may, at run time, filter the chart being displayed. By way of example, suppose a chart is being created that shows the number of different types of appointments. The user may wish to display all appointments for all business partners, or may wish to filter the chart to only display a chart of appointments for one selected business partner. In the latter case, a “property” that would be used in such a filtering would be a database object field that identifies the business partner. As such, that field will be retrieved from the data source at run time to make such a user filtering possible. In addition, to the right of the “report parameters” tile 612 is a “report parameter” tile 614 where more detail for a selected (highlighted) one of the parameters listed in the tile 612 is provided and may be specified.
Referring now to
A toolbox area 722, located immediately to the chart display area's right, displays tools that may be used to customize the look-and-feel of the chart being defined. The toolbox area 722 consists of an expandable, and collapsible, chart entities listing area 724 (namely, the “Overview” tile) that is displayed above a chart entities properties area 726. Selection of one of the chart entities in the listing area 724 causes tools for the selected chart entity to be provided in the properties area 726. In the
A user-selectable “finished” button 728, located at the bottom of the chart designer work area 704, causes a return to a previously displayed chart definition work area. In addition, a “fetch data again” button 726 is provided, also at the bottom of the chart designer work area 704, that may cause a database query to be performed to refresh the data used in the chart being displayed in the chart display area 720. In addition or alternatively, selecting button 726 may refresh the chart with the current values set with the chart design tools in 722.
Referring now to
A “Description Languages” tile 836, provided immediately below the “Chart Elements” tile 832, provides a table showing a current user definition for a chart element that is selected in tile 834. In the
Although not shown in the
Referring to the menu listing 802, there is shown a “Parameter Descriptions” sub-component of the chart maintenance component. This enables descriptions to be defined for the various chart parameters discussed previously in connection with the “Report Parameters” file 612 and “Report Parameter” file 614 shown in
Referring now to
A “Chart Definitions” tile 946 is provided immediately below the “Chart Definition Search” tile 940, and provides a list view of defined charts identified when a search entered in tile 940 has been executed. In the
Referring now to
Next, at 1006, and if necessary, value measures are calculated for each of the category axis values (that is, for each of the categories) using the retrieved data and a value measure calculation as defined for the chart. Such a value measure calculation may be defined using the business content provider program 134 provided in the
Referring now to
The chart overview sub-component work area 1104 includes a “Business Components” tile 1148 provided at a top left corner of the work area 1104. This tile 1148 provides another expandable, and collapsible, listing of the business components that make up the mobile sales software application. A “Chart Definitions” tile 1150 is provided immediately to the right of the “Business Components” tile 1150, and provides a table of several predefined charts that may be selected by a user. Tile 1150 also includes a “Show Chart” button 1152 that causes a selected predefined chart to be generated in a “Chart” tile 1154 provided at the bottom of the work area 1104. A user selection of the “Show Chart” button 1152 causes the selected chart to be generated, for example, in accordance with the run-time process shown in
The chart selected in
Referring now to
A business content provider work area 1304 is provided to the right of the menu area 1302, as shown in
In one example, suppose a user locates and selects a “BSCONGEN” business query from a group of displayed business queries. This causes a “BOCONGEN” business object to be identified as the “Main Business Object,” as shown in
The wizard may also display a “Related Business Objects: All related objects” tile that includes a collection of business objects that are related to the main business object (BOCONGEN). Because a user may typically be interested in including object information in the chart that is related to the main business object, the structured presentation of related business objects provides easy access to these related objects and eliminates the need to search for the objects. Also, a “Relationship Properties: All properties” tile may be displayed that includes a group of business object attributes associated with a selected business object in the “Related Business Objects: All related objects” tile. By displaying the main business object and its associated attributes, along with related business objects and their associated attributes, the business content provider component provides the user with a convenient and flexible design environment, allowing business content structures to be quickly and easily designed. The user can efficiently design content for a chart without having to model business queries and/or write program code to describe the desired content. This permits users who may not be skilled in programming or coding to effectively design content for reports or charts using an object-based approach.
A user may define related business objects with respect to the main business object. To do so, the wizard may display a pop-up window that includes a “Relationship Details” section and a “Relationship Parameters” section. The “Relationship Details” section may include input fields for specifying a relationship unique name that may be unique to the business content structure, a relationship type, and a child business object. A relationship name field may list a previously defined relationship name, using a mobile application studio component, for example. In THE
Referring again to
In addition to the previously defined business object attributes that are associated with a given business object, a user may also define a formula for a calculated field. This permits the user to define additional attributes to be included in the business content structure, and which will appear in the chart. To do this, an “Add Formula” button may be provided that causes a display of a pop-up window with a “Formula Definition” section and a “Formula Parameters” section. Drop-down lists of choices may be implemented to guide user selection from a group of framework-supported formulas.
The formula may be a user-defined formula that accepts one or more parameters and returns a value. This provides flexibility and may be appropriate in situations where a user desires a chart having attributes not previously defined and/or maintained. Currency conversion (e.g., when prices for sales items are maintained in euros, the user may wish to report the prices in U.S. dollars) and language translation are examples where formulas may be useful. The formula may be executed at run-time by a business content supplier module, for example, and the value may be transmitted to the chart execution application along with the business content structure and the data. Alternatively, the formula may be a previously defined formula. The parameters may include data retrieved from a database, such as database 150 (
The business content structure can be persistently stored in a database, such as database 150, for future use. This may permit a user to later select the business content structure and generate a chart with current data at the time of chart generation. In one implementation, the business content structure is stored as an XML document in the database 150, and each object attribute in the business content structure corresponds to a tag of the XML document.
Briefly, at run time, data are retrieved that are associated with the defined business content structure. This may involve first fetching the business content structure, interpreting the collection (for example, reading and interpreting the XML document in which the business content structure is stored), and constructing database queries for accessing the data. The database queries may be, for example, Structured Query Language (SQL) queries, and may utilize a derived table concept whereby fewer queries may be needed to retrieve data associated with related objects.
An output file may be generated for a chart execution application to use to generate the chart. The output file may include the business content structure information and the retrieved data associated therewith. Because only those business object attributes present in the business content structure (and not every attribute associated with a particular business object) will be included in the generated output file, performance may be improved. In one implementation, a standard output format such as an ActiveX Data Object (ADO) Recordset is generated.
Referring now to
The chart “Details” sub-component work area 1404 may also be used to define the object attribute that is to be used as the category axis in the chart. In addition, work area may be used to define the data series, or multiple different data series, to be used in the chart. As discussed, a formula to calculate the value measures for the data series may have been defined using the business content provider tool. In addition, as described previously, a user selectable “Customize” button provided in the “Chart Definition” tile 1406 may be selected to launch a program to customize the look and feel of the chart, as described previously in connection with
The “Data Source Properties” tile 1410 and additional associated tiles not shown, is used to define the chart axes, namely, the category axis and the one or more data series for the value axis, as described previously in connection with
Referring now to
Referring now to
The work area 1604 includes two predefined charts that are displayed in two different tiles located at the bottom of the work area 1604. In tile 1664, a predefined chart entitled “Status of Activities by Process type” is displayed. This chart is a stacked column type of chart with multiple data series that use a common value axis scale. In tile 1666, a predefined chart entitled “Status of Activities by Activity Type” is provided. This chart is also a column chart with multiple data series that use a common value axis scale, but instead of being a stacked column chart, the different data series are displayed side by side for each of the category axis values.
The charts shown in tiles 1664 and 1666, in this example, are filtered to include only activities for a particular contact person with a “Partner ID” of “0000021223,” as specified in tile 1668. In this example, “Partner ID” was defined to be a “parameter” for the chart using, for example, parameter definition tiles 1412 and 1414 shown in
Thus it can be seen that predefined charts may be easily defined and made available at useful places within a software application. This allows the chart to be made available where the user would like to see them, thereby aiding in the decision making process.
A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||715/771, 715/211|
|International Classification||G06F17/00, G06F17/30, G06F3/048|
|Cooperative Classification||G06F17/30554, G06T11/206|
|European Classification||G06F17/30S4V, G06T11/20T|
|Aug 13, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SAP AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BHATT, ANKUR;KAPOOR, SANJAY;PRADHAN, AUROBINDA;REEL/FRAME:015061/0740
Effective date: 20040528
|Aug 26, 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SAP SE, GERMANY
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SAP AG;REEL/FRAME:033625/0334
Effective date: 20140707
|Oct 23, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4